Planning the process


Ahead of the Speak Easy at Festival of Live Art, Melbourne, March 6 2016, sociocreative trust members will share insight into aspects of the planning process for their event. In this post, Susie reflects on the first Speak Easy, which the trust presented in 2014. 

In October 2014 we presented the first Speak Easy in Newcastle, NSW as part of the Critical Animals festival. The festival had the broad theme of ‘possible futures’ which we used to frame our first iteration of the event.

After a lot of contemplation we devised three movements: birth, life and death. We set the dinner in the year 2037, and asked our dinner guests the questions: what does it mean to be born, to be alive and then to die.

There was a lot of scope for play and imagination. Using the ideas around increasing anonymity, how some individuals identified or held hostage by their data and the potential for humans to be reduced to numbers, we assigned everyone the last 3 digits of their mobile phone number as their pseudonym for the event. This was also to allow everyone to meet each other for the first time, to be among strangers, even if you’d arrived with friends.

We facilitated the event with an MC, who rang a bell to commence and propel the occasion, explaining the set up. We welcomed guests to the year 2037 and asked them to imagine what it is like to be born now. What does the world look like? How did you come into the world? Are you born or otherwise? Facilitators circled the table, ensuring that people stuck to the conversation topics, prompting guests with provocations around each.

At the discretion of the facilitators, guests were asked to leave their plates and swap seats, to ensure the conversations stayed fresh.

The ring of the bell heralded a new conversation topic. Moving on to what it means to live a life in 2037? Not too far away, but far away enough that things could have changed in subtle, yet significant ways. What does it mean to be human in this year? We prompted further discussion with a slideshow of imagery.

Speak Easy as performed at Critical Animals festival, Newcastle, NSW, 2014. Reflection by Melissa Delaney, photo by Alan Weedon